Looking for mates in the UK

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Smartphone manufacturer i-mate took a tumble last year following the end of its design manufacturer agreement with HTC in 2006. Turnover plummeted from $110.8 million (£55.6 million) in 2006 to $46.2 million in 2007, resulting in a net profit loss of $29.4 million.

Chairman Bernard Cragg said as its results came in last year: “It’s been an extremely testing period for management and staff at i-mate. Our losses are disappointing and beyond our expectations.”

Chief executive Jim Morrison followed with a pledge to turn the situation around with better products, better geographic distribution and a better relationship with its operating system partner Microsoft.

In the UK, i-mate has a modest following. A significant boost to its UK trading could, arguably, see the company back in the black. This year’s range of i-mate devices – the ‘Ultimate’ and ‘Jama’ ranges – will all be, for the first time, made available in the UK via a distribution deal with Hugh Symons Telecom, the soon-to-be UK division of US giant Brightpoint.

This year’s Mobile World Congress in February bore witness to i-mate’s ambitions: its blue logo dominated the Fira de Barcelona, adorning bars and meeting places. According to i-mate general manager for the Middle East, Africa and India Jack Craine, i-mate representatives had more customer meetings at the event this year than ever before.

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